Scouts Corner: A Firsthand Look At Yoenis Cespedes


I was in Phoenix last week  and was able to watch newly acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics up close in person.  Cespedes played centerfield in three games (against the Arizona Diamondbacks (twice) and Chicago Cubs).  Here are some of my thoughts.

What I liked

He showed good plate discipline by working the count and taking pitches.  I never saw him swing at the first two pitches of any at-bat.

For a man of his size, he ran an impressive 3.81 to first and I did not get the impression that he had hit his top gear.

Displayed a wiliness to get after it while patrolling center, he made an all-out catch in one game that saved his team a few runs.

He has a plus arm, which could see him play in right field in the future.

Has impressive bat speed, which will enable him to hit most major league fastballs. He hit a ball on a line over the shortstop and into the left center gap for a double.

What I didn’t like

If the pitcher got ahead in the count and went to the curve ball it fooled Cespedes. I saw this on three occasions when he was caught looking.

It will take some time for him to make the adjustment to facing better pitching (more off-speed stuff, greater overall velocity and better location).

He took very aggressive leads off of first base when running the bases, and was picked off by the catcher (Miguel Montero).

My Conclusions

Cespedes appears willing to make adjustments to the higher level of competition as it was clear to me, which you have to like. There is very little question about his physical tools as his size and speed are impressive as he is built like a brick house at 5-11, and 225 pounds.  I believe he is capable of hitting 25 plus homers this season and stealing 25-30 bases. I don’t see him hitting for a high average (.260 to .270) as he has a slight uppercut swing which will result in a high number of fly balls. Physically, I was reminded of former outfielder and NFL running back Bo Jackson who was a freakish athlete. Jackson had a career year in 1989, where he hit 32 HR, 105 RBI with a .256 average; Jackson also stuck out 172 times while walking only 39 times. Personally I think that we could see similar numbers from Cespedes during his prime years with a higher walk rate and slightly higher average. The mental grind of a longer season and a new culture will be the biggest challenges that Cespedes will have to overcome this year. If that is the case then the 4-year, $36 million contract can be viewed as a solid investment by the Athletics.


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